In 2018, I quit my job as a successful volatility trader to build an app that helps people earn as much money as possible from credit card rewards.
So, what happened between 2018 and 2021? Why did I quit my job to build an app? And how can my app put money in your pocket?
I’m glad you asked.
As a volatility trader for Merrill Lynch, I made plenty of money, but I was miserable. Travel has always been my passion, but vacation days were hard to come by, especially as a junior at the company. In 2013, I discovered how to use credit card spending and rewards to fund luxury travel. I spent hours researching credit cards and earned enough rewards to take some awesome trips, but I could only go so far with five days off per year.
Everything changed in 2017.
By then I was no longer a junior, and I convinced three of my best friends to take a two-week trip to Japan and Korea — funded entirely by credit card rewards. The planning was intense. I spent months on it, and each of us opened 4-5 new credit cards to earn sign-up bonuses and take advantage of rewards deals, but my strategy paid off.
We cashed in our rewards for first-class flights and five-star hotels in Tokyo and Seoul and had the time of our lives exploring East Asia for two weeks.
Once I got back to NYC, I couldn’t stop thinking about how much fun the trip was and how amazing it was to pay for it all not with cash, but with credit card rewards. Why doesn’t everyone do this, I wondered?
Eventually, I figured it out. Two things are holding most people back from playing and winning the credit card points and miles game.
First, most people have no idea how much is possible to earn from credit card rewards. They don’t know their credit card benefits or how to maximize them, so they leave thousands of dollars on the table every year.
Second, finding the best credit card deals takes a lot of time and effort. The fastest way to earn rewards is to research the best sign-up bonuses and open a series of new cards to capture the rewards. Most people don’t have the time to scour the internet for information, or the energy to manage multiple credit cards.
I was undeterred by these realizations. What if there was a way to automate all the hard work and help more people earn maximum rewards?
There wasn’t a way at the time, so I decided to make one. I started working on building an algorithm to automatically find the best credit card deals and offer tailored recommendations to earn the most possible rewards. My team and I named the concept “Card Curator,” because its goal is to act as a caretaker of our customers’ credit cards.
By October 2018, I had quit my job to work on building an app full-time. I made a lot of progress with the help of my dad and a few advisors, but I realized I needed more support.
In August 2020, I started the Wharton MBA program. I chose Wharton because of its excellent entrepreneurship program, reputation for incubating student-founded startups, and strong fintech offerings.
I haven’t been disappointed. As a member of the Wharton VIP X Accelerator program, I’ve had access to the mentorship and resources I needed to take Card Curator to the next level.
Our successes over the last few months have been exciting. Card Curator won the Wharton Summer Venture Award, received a WeissFund Tech House Grant, and made it to the semifinals of MIT’s FinTech competition. We also built out our website, completed our soft launch, and made some significant app upgrades.
Today, Card Curator is a fully functioning app putting money in people’s pockets by optimizing credit card rewards. By following our personalized recommendations, you can automatically earn 5-10% or more on all your credit card spending, compared to the average of 1-2% that most people earn from their cards. All credit card rewards are tax-free and can be used however you choose.
The algorithm’s recommendations are based on your goals. You can choose to maximize cashback, charitable contributions, or points and miles. With Card Curator’s premium plan, you can even set a specific travel goal complete with flight and hotel details.
Once you enter your goals, Card Curator’s proprietary algorithm determines the best set of cards for you and recommends a set of cards to help reach your goals as quickly as possible.
If your goal is to maximize cashback, the recommendations will represent the set of cards that will help you maximize cashback rewards from your everyday spending.
If your goal is to take a first-class flight to Zagreb with your best friend and spend two weeks staying in 5-star hotels and exploring Croatia, your card recommendations will include the cards with the best travel rewards for your specific trip.
But Card Curator does more than recommend cards you should sign up for. The app also helps you manage the cards you already have and track all your rewards. When you add your existing cards to your Card Curator Wallet, you get automatic geolocation-based recommendations to help you choose the right card for every purchase, so you earn maximum rewards every time you spend money.
I’m proud of how far Card Curator has shaped up and am excited about the future. There are no other apps like Card Curator available, and the possibilities for growth are enticing. We’re starting our first major marketing campaign to build up to a hard launch this summer. We’ve launched a new referral program, and we’re continuing to refine the app and develop new features.
At the same time, Wharton is teaching me about what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. I know there will be challenges as Card Curator grows, but I’m ready for whatever comes. If you’d like to follow Card Curator’s journey, visit www.cardcurator.com to sign up for our newsletter or check us out on Instagram @card_curator.